by Dr. Shanthi Thomas
Creativity is one of those soft skills very much in demand in the 21st century modern world. A creative person can solve problems with innovative solutions, think outside the box and think up new ideas to replace outdated ones. It is no wonder that creative people are sought after and treasured in all fields of life. As is the case with most skills, creativity has to be nurtured from young. Let us see some ways in which parents can nurture creativity in their children.
Solving problems in more than one ways in an aspect of creativity, and this can be nurtured from young. For example, imagine that your child has nothing to wear for a costume party. An obvious solution would be to shop for one. But think together with your child to see if you can repurpose any existing clothes into a costume. Such low risk adventures promote creativity.
It is common for parents and teachers to ‘brand’ certain children as ‘very good at writing stories’ or ‘very good at Maths’ or ‘very poor at drawing’. Such labels are taken very seriously by children, and they may consider some subjects and pursuits as not meant for them. This can hamper their chances of doing well in those. This can happen especially to children who are considered ‘good at Maths and Science’ but not so good at the Arts. It is a better idea to let kids explore many different subjects and activities without judgment.
From the time when children are very young, give them exposure to different places, objects and ideas. One of the best ways to do this is to develop the habit of reading in them. Parents have to make it a daily practice to read to their children every day, perhaps before bed time. Another way to give them exposure is to bring them along to the places you go to, such as the market or a bank. This will give them material to think about, and to apply what they already know.
Children develop their creativity not in a sanitized way, but rather in messy ways. You would find creative kids drawing and writing on the walls of their room before they start writing on paper. It is natural for kids to get dirty also when they use water colour or poster colour. Let them explore the outdoors, dance around in the rain and play in muddy puddles. All these activities are giving them fresh sensations that develop their imagination and creativity.
There was a time when children used to have a lot of free time. In the modern world, however, children are very busy, rushing from piano class to taekwondo class, basketball to dance class. The little time they get for themselves may be spent with their gadgets. This results in very little down time for kids. In order to develop their creativity, kids need to have free time, free from activities and gadgets, so that they can let their imagination run wild.
Children are typically full of questions. It is only when adults show impatience or refuse to answer, that they stop questioning. Asking questions is a child’s way of knowing about the world. It is important that parents be patient in answering questions, and more importantly, encourage them to think on their own by not providing an answer directly. For example, a child who asks why there is a rainbow in the sky can be given a clue about the answer, and then another clue and so on, making it into a game.
A child who is forbidden from a lot of activities or is too strictly brought up will have a very limited understanding of what is possible for him to do or to think. It is important for children to be free enough to engage in activities of their choice and passion as long as they are not dangerous or harmful.
It is not necessary for kids to have very expensive toys or books to develop their creativity. Often, you will find that kids are very happy playing with things they find around the house such as card board boxes or cooking utensils. Parents need to supervise them without being too intrusive, and allow kids access to such items.
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